Summer isn't over yet -- we're still clinging onto our corn and our tomatoes and our stone fruit as tightly as we can without bruising or bursting them. But it's time for us to start thinking about preserving what we have in anticipation of darker, colder times. Luckily for us, Marisa McClellan is here to help.
On her blog, Food in Jars, Marisa shares her "general obsession with canning jars of all shapes and sizes". She has recently penned a cookbook of the same name, sharing recipes for pickles and jams and syrups that will help convince our wintry selves that fresh tomatoes and juicy plums aren't just a figment of our imagination. Since we're selling signed copies in Provisions (grab one here!), we chatted with Marisa about her favorite things to put up, and why you should be canning, too.
When did you first become interested in preserving? I grew up helping my mom make blueberry and blackberry jam, so it was always something I knew how to do. The first time I did it myself was in my mid-twenties: I'd gone blueberry picking with a friend and came home with 13 pounds. My first instinct was to make jam like my mom always did, so I gave it a try and loved every aspect of it. I haven't stopped since.
What late summer produce is still on your list of things to "put up" before it's gone? I can't live without an array of peach preserves. I like to wait until the end of the season, when you're certain to get the freestone varieties. Then, I go a little crazy with peach halves, peach butter, and peach chutney.
What are your favorite ways of using preserved fruits and vegetables during the colder months? I eat a lot of my pickles alongside bowls of soup or plates of roasted root vegetables. I stir jam into bowls of yogurt and put preserved fruit segments into baked goods and desserts.
What's your go-to edible gift? I like to give people a jar of jam along with a little package of homemade bread, scones, or crackers.
What's your advice to people who are nervous about canning? Most people are wary about canning because they're afraid that they're going to kill someone. However, botulism can't grow in high acid environments, which includes nearly every variety of jam, jelly, and pickle, so there's absolutely no risk in making and giving one these products.
Ready to get canning? Pick up a copy of Marisa's book -- and get thee to a farmers market.
Photo of Marisa via Mrs. Wages; book photo by James Ransom